March is Nutrition Month, and this year Dietitians of Canada has chosen the theme, “Get the real deal on your meal.”
The idea is to de-bunk some common food myths. For a full list, you can visit their website, but I have chosen a few to discuss.
1. Organic foods are more nutritious than non-organic foods.
Fact: Many factors affect a food’s nutritional value, such as where and how it was grown, stored, shipped and even how it was cooked. A tomato picked at the peak of ripeness in healthy soil and eaten soon after will have more nutrition than your pale winter hothouse tomato shipped from Mexico, whether or not it is organic (however, one could argue that organic foods are grown without pesticides and therefore are better for our environment and water supply, and therefore our health).
2. Late-night snacking will make you gain weight.
Fact: Late-night snacking can lead to weight gain, but it’s not due to the time on the clock. The trouble is after-dinner snacking can lead you to eat more calories than your body needs in a day, especially if you’re having high-calorie snack foods and sweetened beverages. Late-night snacking is usually more about boredom than hunger.
3. Sea salt is natural so it’s better for you than table salt.
Fact: Sea salt has about the same amount of sodium as table salt. The differences between sea salt and table salt are taste, texture and how they are made. Table salt is mined from dried-up ancient salt lakes. Some table salts include iodine, a nutrient that helps prevent thyroid disease. Sea salt is made by evaporating seawater and tastes different depending on where it is from. Whichever salt you choose, use less.
4. “Multigrain” is the same as “whole grain.”
Fact: Multigrain is not always whole grain. Multigrain products include different grains, but they may not be whole. To make sure a food is made with whole grains, look on the food label’s ingredient list for the words “whole grain” in front of each grain name. If whole grains are the main ingredients in a food, they should appear first in the ingredient list.
5. Eating a lot of protein helps build muscle.
Fact: Protein alone does not build muscle mass. A strength-training program, along with enough calories from healthy foods, recovery time and sleep, are also needed for building muscle.
And finally, my favourite: dietitians only eat healthy foods – never chocolate, fries, chips or candy. Of course, this is a myth. I eat only kale, brown rice and soya beans!